By: Lydia Baker-Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
Tucker County EMS Training Officer Joe Strait updated the Tucker County regarding the latest EMT classes and a new partnership that EMS has with the Tucker County High School.
“Just so you know, across the state, 40% of EMS providers, all types of EMS providers, have left the industry,” Strait said. “Naturally, it’s a crisis.”
Strait said a new class was beginning on Monday. “This is a class we are starting Monday,” Strait said. “Over here at the Fire Hall at six o’clock. It is basically my first EMT class since I have taken over as training officer for Tucker County. “
According to Strait, he was in the final stages of obtaining his Adult Education license. “The paperwork is going through right now,” Strait said, “for me to get my official Department of Education license for Adult Ed and to become an instructor for EMS.”
Josh Tompkins is going to be the primary instructor in the course, according to Strait. “He’s going to be the primary instructor,” Strait said. “Being as I just got my instructor certification; I truly don’t want to step out going into it first time. I want to give these students the proper education.”
Strait said that he and EMS Director Amanda Simmons have met with Tucker County High School Principal Alex Cork about beginning an EMT training program at the school. “This morning, Mandy and I had a meeting with Mr. Cork and Mr. Weaver at the High School,” Strait said. “What they’re wanting to do is eventually take something like that and make it one of the classes in the High School for the students. So, we’re working on that.”
According to Strait, the program may reasonably begin next January, although he would like it to start sooner. “Optimally, pie in the sky, we would like to start it this January,” Strait said. “But we’re looking at realistically the next January.”
The course would be taught, according to Strait, by himself or another instructor at the High School. “It would be taught by me or another instructor,” Strait said. “Three hours a day, five days a week. It could be done inside of four months, at the most.”
According to Strait, teens age 16 and up can obtain their EMT Certification, but are not allowed to ride in the back alone until they are 18. “The students, teenagers 16 years of age, or older, can get their certification as an EMT,” Strait said. “But they cannot ride in the back by themselves until they are 18.”
Strait said he has had a lot of positive feedback since becoming the training officer. “Overall, since I’ve taken over as training officer, I’m getting a positive feedback from our members, on the training” Strait said. “We’re trying to do training once, maybe twice a month. Generally, we are working towards regional rotation stuff right now. But, overall, I’ve been having positive feedback from the people within the agency.”
Tucker County Commissioner Mike Rosenau asked Strait how many people were currently signed up for the EMT Class. “Right now, I believe we have 15,” Strait said. “But that doesn’t mean all of them are going to be there. I was hoping to have more students. I do have three students from the High School that are coming to it.”
“I just think it’s wonderful that there are 15 people willing to step up and take the class,” Rosenau said.
Strait acknowledged that the $650 fee can inhibit some students, but he is looking into ways to mitigate the cost. “If you look down at the bottom,” Strait said, “it is a $650 fee, but that includes books, tuition, testing, Cert test and national testing and stuff like that. That’s a concern for some people, but I’m working on scholarships and stuff so the individuals can get help paying for it.”
Rosenau requested that Strait arrange for a meeting with the EMS board president to discuss options for the County to assist in the fees. “Its $650,” Rosenau said. “I would like for the President of your organization to request a meeting with us. Sometimes there’s – we have in the past – if there is a dedication to our county, an obligation, that we may help with the funding of it. If that EMT will sign a form that he or she will work in our county for a certain amount of years or whatever.”
According to Strait, two of the current students are drivers for Tucker EMS and the organization is paying their cost to obtain their EMT. “Two of the students that are in that class are already drivers for Tucker EMS,” Strait said. “The proviso is, they have to get their EMT and we pay for it.”
Rosenau said that the County have assisted others in the past with education expenses. “We have done that in the past for like Sheriff’s Deputies and things like that,” Rosenau said. “If there was an understanding that will bring benefit to our county, for a certain amount of time, that we may be able to help with their education. So, if you would have Mandy contact her board and set up a meeting with us, we would appreciate that.”
The next meeting of the Tucker County Commission will be held October 11th at 9 a.m. in the Tucker County Courthouse Old Courtroom.